The last defense: SRT safeguards Moody from high-risks

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Greg Nash
  • 23d Wing/Public Affairs
Since the beginning of time, the world's hierarchies have assembled special groups of warriors with the sole purpose of ensuring safety of their communities at all costs.

One of these groups is the 23d Security Forces Squadron's Special Reaction Team. They are responsible for defending Moody's perimeters and safeguarding the approximate 6,000 personnel assigned to base, during high-risk situations.

"We are the last line of defense responsible for confronting high-risk situations, we are the [23d SFS's] 911," said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Israel Garza, 23d SFS unit trainer. "We're the final option and last chance to get the job done."

As a part of the 23d SFS, the SRT takes pride in being tasked to handle the most hostile scenarios.

"We're a specialized team that puts more emphasis on training to respond to hostile situations," said Senior Airman Max Biser, 23d SFS patrolman. "We are the SWAT [Special Weapons and Tactics team] of the security forces world. The tactics we learn slightly sets us apart from the normal, day-to-day security forces operations."

According to Biser, he's credited being in the SRT for making him a better patrolman. He credits the training experiences of high-risk situations for increasing his confidence and capabilities to control a scene.

The SRT routinely performs barricaded suspects, hostage situations, vehicle takedowns and man-hunting armed gunmen tactics to eliminate threats by continually practicing scenarios to be ready at a moment's notice.

"Our training foundation relies on the 60-20-20; which is 60 percent tactics, 20 percent weapons and 20 percent physical," said Garza. "This training method enhances our ability to perform techniques when practicing tactics, excelling in shooting [weaponry] to eliminate targets, and being physically fit. We train to ensure that everyone is on the same page within our team and in the outside organizations that we support in training."

The SRT works in conjunction with several agencies to incorporate and improve new tactical training processes to become better equipped in the fight.

Recently teaming up with the Georgia State Patrols' special operations unit, the SRT hosted tactical-procedure training. Both sides contributed to performing a building clearing while searching for targets to put in custody. They also participated in a low-light training scenario using night vision goggles.

According to a GSP member, sharing these ideas to find different avenues to approach scenarios was important and seeing the use of K-9's to neutralize threats has inspired them to request that capability to use in their operations.

Garza says these types of joint training events have been vital to the SRT's ability to be more proficient.

"By [collaborating] with different agencies and sharing training methods, we can add new tactical advantages," said Garza. "There's 1,000 ways to skin a cat, and there's no one right way to do it. In the military, there's usually a one-way mind set to do things. In high-risk situations, however, playing it by the book won't always be the answer. We want to use as many tools as possible to save lives."

Similar to the multitude of tactics and 'tools' they use to save lives, SRT members must be diverse in their capabilities.

According to Garza, the ideal qualities for a SRT member to exhibit are teamwork, leadership, ethics and having the mental capacity to perform under duress.

"Our level of responsibility can be stressful, especially with the bad guys trying to get ahead of the curve," said Garza. "There's new technology and more emphasis of threats being knowledgeable of our weapons and tactics. It's important to minimize the threat by always finding ways to improve our capabilities and remain on the same page."

The SRT's ability to consistently progress and stay on the same page partly stems from their cohesiveness on and off-duty.

"We have our own brotherhood and have to rely on each other," said Garza. "It's very important for us to hang out off-duty and be familiar with each other's personal lives. If someone has a personal problem, we have to depend on them to overcome it and be in the right mindset when it's time to work. In the event that something happened to me, these guys are responsible for my protection. One person can't do it alone, so we stress the importance of teamwork."

Their strong bond gives them the confidence to effectively do their jobs, according to Garza.

"The competency I have in the team is second to none," said Garza. "I know no matter what situation comes, we can handle it to save every life that needs saving."